Sailor comes ashore for MND-B civil affairs mission
December 10, 2009
BAGHDAD - With the transition in Iraq shifting from a U.S. to an Iraqi led force, becoming a joint-service armed force is more important than ever, and Multi-National Division - Baghdad is no exception.
One example of this meshing between the branches is Petty Officer 3rd Class Colette Culpepper. The Antioch, Calif., native is currently assigned as a movement coordinator with the 414th Civil Affairs Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, here. She is one of the very few Navy personnel currently assigned to MND-B.
As a systems administrator aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, Culpepper worked as a trouble-shooter for network computers and communications equipment on board the ship. She received on-the-job training via an intelligence program and says it was an easy switch because of her electronics background.
Culpepper volunteered to support Operation Iraqi Freedom because she wanted to help with the transition of responsibility back to the Iraqis. She stated that she was also eager to get some boots-on-ground time, which she hasn't gotten much of during her four years in the Navy.
As a member of the division's Civil Capacity Cell, Culpepper compiles information gathered by aerial footage and ground intelligence in order to brief staff and unit leaders on how to conduct movement safely throughout the area.
The collection is then briefed to MND-B leadership during a Non-Lethal Targeting Board, where plans are formed and revised based on information received from units.
"I enjoy the boards we have here," she stated. "Hearing the generals speak with such passion about what they want to see happen is great."
Culpepper works to ensure the units' movements are conducted in a safe and secure manner. If they can arrive at their destination and accomplish the mission without enduring any combat, Culpepper said she considers that a successful mission.
Though all branches of the military are working together to achieve the same overall objective here, Culpepper said she noticed a difference in the way the services train and actually execute the mission. Being accustomed to working on a ship, she said seeing Soldiers making face-to-face contact with locals was a learning experience for her.
"I've gotten a whole new respect on military service and the way things work from land," she said. "I like how the Army is so hands-on with the communities; it's something I'm not used to."
As the 414th CA Bn. continues their mission, Culpepper says she hopes to continue to be a valuable asset to the team. With the multitude of duties thrown on her plate, Culpepper is proving that Sailors, too, can learn to be Army Strong.